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UWF alumna named Woman of the Year in technology

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

Working to troubleshoot an antenna that’s going to orbit our planet or personally mentoring an up-and-coming engineer, it’s no wonder Theresa Brunasso, ’82, was named “Woman of the Year in Technology” by the Georgia-based organization Women in Technology (WIT). With an unwavering commitment to the professional development of women in engineering, the University of West Florida alumna has more than 30 years of experience in electrical engineering and serves as director of Technology Development at EMS Technologies.

“It was an amazing feeling to receive the award,” said Brunasso. “It felt great to be among female chief executive officers and presidents of companies. I’m fortunate enough to get the opportunity to build things that go into space and land on Mars. I love what I do.”

Playing an integral role in the advancement of EMS Technologies’ Defense and Space Systems Engineering, Brunasso provides innovative designs and development expertise for radio frequency, microwave and millimeter wave components and subsystems for use in satellite communications and military applications. She recently led the EMS team to win the first space antenna contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system. EMS’s Ka-band antenna will be used to land the Mars Science Lab on the Red Planet next year.

“For this project, there’s only one window every 26 months because of the relative orbits of Earth and Mars,” said Brunasso. “Physics is hard. The universe is unforgiving and there are always challenges with making projects work.”

Brunasso began her career with the U.S. Navy as an instructor at the Consolidated Naval Electronic Warfare School in Pensacola. Grateful for the UWF programs and professors that helped her realize future career options, Brunasso pursued her undergraduate degree at UWF taking advantage of the flexibility the Physics program offered. After UWF, she went on to earn her master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Utah.

“UWF is an incredibly supportive environment,” said Brunasso. “I wouldn’t have gone to graduate school if I hadn’t received the encouragement from my UWF professors. They worked with my schedule, consistently gave me guidance and the confidence I needed.”

In her current role working for EMS Technologies, she strives to reach out to young female students to give them the same type of guidance that she received from UWF. Participating in several outreach organizations, Brunasso has given her time to provide ongoing guidance to undergraduate and graduate students by volunteering for MentorNet, a nonprofit e-mentoring network for diversity in engineering and science. Reaching out to students of all ages, Brunasso also works with high school students through seminars and careers days and volunteers her time with local elementary schools inspiring the next generation of female engineers.

“Women are only 10 percent of the population of engineers and I would like to see that change,” said Brunasso. “It’s important for young female students to see women in the field so they can consider it an option for them.”

Learn more about UWF’s School of Science and Engineering at uwf.edu/sse. Visit UWF’s Physics program Web site at uwf.edu/physics. To find out more about EMS Technologies, visit ems-t.com.

By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications

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